Operation SMART (Science, Math and Relevant Technology)

Operation SMART (Science, Math and Relevant Technology)

Program Description
Since 1984, Operation SMART has provided girls with basic knowledge of math and science processes, and pushed them to question why and how things work. The hands-on nature of this program encourages risk-taking, observation, discovery, creative thought and scientific inquiry.

Program Objectives

  • Provide girls with basic knowledge in the fields of science, math and relevant technology.
  • Encourage girls to explore possible career paths in SMART areas, which are typically underrepresented by women.
  • Increase girls’ aptitude, interest and an additional shift toward the belief that they cann be successful in math and science.

A Formula for Success
Assume girls are interested in math, science and technology. Too many girls–and too many children of color–still get the message that math and science aren’t for them. Research shows that parents, teachers and other adults typically expect girls not to perform as well as boys in science, math and related subjects regardless of their true potential or demonstrated abilities. At Girls Incorporated sites, however, girls jump at the opportunity to dismantle machines, care for small animals and solve logic puzzles. Instead of struggling to get the boys to share the tools, in an all-girl environment, girls can focus on the task at hand–and have fun while they’re at it.

Let girls make big, interesting mistakes
Girls who are overly protected in the lab or on the playground have few chances to assess risks and solve problems on their own. At Girls Incorporated, once dreaded mistakes become hypotheses. Girls are urged to go back to the drawing board to figure out, together, why their newly-assembled electric door alarm doesn’t work or their water filter gets clogged. Supported by adults instead of rescued, girls learn to embrace their curiosity, face their fear and trust their own judgment.

Help girls get past the “yuk” factor
Girls who are afraid of getting dirty aren’t born that way–they’re made. Girls Incorporated encourages girls to put concerns about their “femininity” aside and get good and grubby digging in a river bed or exploring a car engine. Girls learn that they have a right to be themselves–people first and females second–and to resist pressure to behave in sex-stereotyped ways.

Expect girls to succeed
Between 1992 and 1995, young women were outnumbered nearly eight to one when taking a College Board Advanced Placement Test in computer science. This gap reflects the barrier of low expectations that girls continue to face in male-dominated fields. Girls Incorporated teaches girls that they are not only capable of mastering math and science, they’re expected to continue to do so throughout high school and college. They learn that their ambition is as natural as boys’–and as necessary, if they are to become leaders of the 21st century.

A preliminary program evaluation reveals that the more a girl participates in Operation SMART, the more favorable her attitude toward studying science and math. Girls told evaluators that due to Operation SMART, they would use science and math as adults. Girls Incorporated of the Greater Capitol Region can bring Operation SMART to your school, community, church or youth group. The ten week session for a group of 15 girls is geared to participants between the ages of 5 and 18. The fee includes all equipment and consumable supplies necessary for the activities involved.